Today, Mikyzptlk and Drew are discussing Mind MGMT 17, originally released November 27th, 2013.
Mikyzptlk: I’m normally not the type to start a series with anything other than issue 1, but being an editor for Retcon Punch requires you to step out of your comfort zone every once in a while. I started this series with issue 16, and since it was a one-shot, it felt like an interesting experiment. Analyzing issue 17 feels like an experiment too, but of a different sort. Today, I’ll be trying to figure out what’s going on underneath the surface of issue 17 of Mind MGMT while trying to piece together the events of the previous issues. Hoo-boy.
Megan was once with Matryoshkas, but was then retrained by Mind Management only to be left “asleep” and forgotten for years before recently being reawoken. After she was awoken, Megan proceeded to do what she had been programed to do, which is what she describes as “lighting the fuse on the short fused.” Nothing I say will do it justice so just take a look for yourself.
A group of Mind Management agents are seeking to add Megan to their team. Apparently, they are also after a woman by the name of Meru. Meru, and her own team, refuse to join the other team. As Meru’s team escapes, she announces (via voiceover) her newly claimed leadership.
I can’t tell you how many times I thought I handle on this series before my assertions came tumbling down around me. Now, this is entirely my fault, as I am admittedly behind in this series. The reason I bring it up though is because of how much fun I had in my attempts to figure things out. I’m fairly certain this series would be a head-trip even if I’d been following it since issue 1, but my unfamiliarity with this series is increasing the head-trip factor of this series for me.
This issue drops readers in what appears to be the opening stages of an end-of-the-world scenario. Of course, this is really only due to the actions of one person. These “mind agents” are capable of some truly horrific things, and it seems that while their powers can be used for bad things, the agents themselves aren’t necessarily bad.
Sure, Megan causes a ton of trouble, but she also seems to be the victim of both Mind Management and the Matryoshkas group. Regardless of the fact that Matryoshkas originally programmed Megan to kill the Mind Management agents, they still want her on the team. They also want her on the team despite the fact that she basically murdered a small town. At the same time, Meru and her team are clearly on the run, despite being referred to as the bad guys.
I guess what I’m trying to do here is figure out who the hell the heroes and villains are. The more I read (and re-read) this issue though, I find it impossible to determine. Of course, it’s possible that superhero comics have rotted my brain, and that there aren’t supposed to be clear cut heroes and villains. Check out this little nugget from Meru.
She then says that she’s had “enough of burning cities,” which seems kind of heroic to me. At the same time, nothing I’ve seen from the Mind Management agents seem to dictate that they are the bad guys either. This is probably because, again, I’m not privy to the events of the previous issues. However, I think that this is just the way that it’s meant to be.
I’m not entirely sure who these “Mind Management” agents really are, considering that Meru reveals that the group has been disbanded. At the same time, I’m not sure who Meru, Lyme, Duncan, and the others are either. Are they from the Matryoshkas group? Lyme is referred to by Meru as the “lesser of two evils,” so it’s certainly possible that he’s done some not-so-good stuff in the previous issues.
Not knowing all of the details, it’s hard to tell who I should be rooting for. Of course, that might be the whole point as none of the players in this issue are blatantly twirling their mustaches. Drew, this series is obviously designed to be complex, and I find myself intrigued by what I consider to be my first true introduction to the cast. What were you able to make out of this issue? Oh, and “The Second Floor” story on the first page, that seems like someone’s going to have to deal with that eventually, right?
Drew: Oh, for sure. I’m with you on the discomfort of jumping into this series where we did — it was basically a showdown between two factions whose beef we straight up can’t parse from this issue. Both seem invested in tracking down sleeping agents, but I can only guess why. It seems to me that the group that recruited Megan is looking to assemble a team to take down the creators of Mind Management, while the other group is simply on damage control. Either way, I suspect they’ll be coming for Jay Harlow soon enough.
As far as who the good guys and bad guys are, I think it’s clear that we should be rooting for Maru. As you pointed out, Mik, her “enough burning cities” attitude is the only heroism in the issue. Obviously, I don’t fully understand the other faction’s motives to say that they’re bad, but the fact that Maru has oriented herself against them at least positions them as antagonists. More importantly, they recruit a woman who just destroyed a city, and seem to have a history of waking up agents with similarly violent results.
I get the impression that Maru’s “team” is as invested in preventing these kinds of catastrophes as she is, but she clearly has her own problems with them. She refers to Lyme as the “lesser of two evils,” and I’m not sure if that last line — “Lyme is going to do what I say” — is meant to suggest willful obedience, or straight-up mind control. Again, without a better understanding of their history, it’s hard for me to fully understand what’s going on.
My struggles to catch up aside, this issue does a great job of pulling me in. Megan’s explanation of what she did to the town is horrific, but writer Matt Kindt totally sells the idea that it could have been done by one person. Small nudges and some pharmaceutical mood-setting is all she needs to turn these people’s world upside-down. The thought that polite society is so close to the edge is disturbing in that classic, Lord of the Flies way, and I love that Kindt shows us each step on the path towards destruction.
Actually, Kindt seems to delight in showing straightforward steps towards a complex result throughout the issue. My favorite example has to be how Maru disarms Megan and sets fire to the bus with the same bullet.
I’m a sucker for that kind of hyper-competence, but I’m also impressed at how clearly Kindt lays out that sequence of events. It’s a cascade of cause and effect, and the ease with which Kindt expresses them makes it obvious that this is exactly what Maru intended.
There’s a lot of fascinating stuff going on here. This issue definitely has me asking a lot of basic questions about who these people are and why they’re doing what they’re doing, but it also has me excited to find out. Ultimately, whether you start a series from the beginning, or pick it up mid-stream, there’s only one test that matters: does it make you want to read more? In this case there’s the bonus of more to read right now, and I may just have to sacrifice my weekend digging into those back issues.
For a complete list of what we’re reading, head on over to our Pull List page. Whenever possible, buy your comics from your local mom and pop comic bookstore. If you want to rock digital copies, head on over to Comixology and download issues there. There’s no need to pirate, right?